I’m in withdrawal. I didn’t know that writing was addictive, but now there is no doubt. After spending the last nearly five weeks writing in every possible available moment (pushing out around 47 000 words in those precious weeks), I am lost and disoriented at suddenly being finished writing my book.
Ok, so it didn’t really happen suddenly. I saw the ending coming, I knew it was getting near, but when it finally hit, it was still somehow a little out of nowhere. When I am reading a book, it’s easy to count the pages that I have left. When I am writing, it doesn’t quite work that way. The process of finishing a book for me is full of moments of the unexpected. The story unfolds the way it needs to, and although my fingers are the ones moving over the keyboard, what happens next isn’t really up to me.
Really! It’s true. Writing wouldn’t be half as fun if I always knew what was going to happen or how things were going to turn out. Part of what keeps me writing and squeezing all those words out of my brain (even in the midst of finding a new job, moving and June) is wanting to know how it’s all going to end. I write because I want to share the stories and the messages that my characters bring to the world, but on a selfish level, I just need to find out what happens to these characters who grow, evolve and develop in my mind. They are my friends, and I worry about the choices they make and the consequences they will have to deal with. I spend more time getting to know these characters than I do finding out about the lives of my friends and family. I need to know what they will do and why they will do it, I really need to understand them better than I understand myself so that I can bring them authentically to you.
Even though I added the final period to the final page of the final chapter of The Spoon, Part 1, Search for the True Keeper, it is horribly untrue to say that my book is finished. I wish it were true, but the uncomfortable fact is that writing is only a small part of completing a book. The finishing of a first draft is an essential step in the path towards bookdom, but it is still just a step. Especially this time.
This time, I have promised myself that I will take this story all the way to fruition. This book is going to become a physical entity which you can (and hopefully will) hold in your hand, as well as an ebook to fill your kobos and kindles. My original time frame to complete this project was September 2020, but it has now moved up by a year. Returning full time to the classroom this September means that if I want you to meet Skye and Pin Jun, (which I really do!) then I need to do it soon. There isn’t a lot of time to stop and wallow in my first draft, there is an almost urgent need to take the next steps.
Those next steps, (rethinking, reworking, rewriting, revamping, restructuring, revisiting, reviewing, revising) are a little arduous and taxing, but also exciting and often rewarding. It is the time when my characters whisper their little secrets to me, the secrets they didn’t have time to share when I was ironing out what was happening in the story. This is the stage that helps me develop the story to its best and clearest self.
Then, there is the vast unknown of self-publishing. A hauntingly terrifying foray into an unknown and barely understood world. This is a chance for all of my insecurities to bubble to the forefront of my mind and stew in my thoughts as I wonder if I really have what it takes to do justice for my characters in this world. I believe in my ability to write, but when it comes to my ability to connect, network and market my words into the eyes and ears of my readers, my self-confidence plummets to somewhere around deep sea level.
Rather than continue to wallow in the deep sea level panic-attacks of all the things that I might not be able to successfully do, I’ve decided to gather up my self-confidence and get help. I’ve signed up for a three month course to help me push through the uncomfortable places, to forge out and make connections (even though people are scary) and to find the readers who are a fit for my work. The course is called Creative Shift Mastermind, it is based on a human-centered approach to marketing and since I’ve always been interested in figuring out how to approach humans, I thought I would give it a try.
My characters in Search for the True Keeper are having to grapple with understanding where to find the lines of right and wrong in a world (kind of like this one) where all the black and white that we think we see is actually more honestly shades of gray. They have to make choices that will affect the lives of millions of people and understand things that seem impossible. It isn’t enough that they need to accomplish all of that, but they have to do it all while they are in the midst of falling in love. If they can do all of that, the least I can do is to connect them to the readers who are going to ride the waves of their emotions and cherish their adventures.
It’s possible that my characters are here in some ways to guide me. Pin Jun and Skye have figured out something that I am still struggling with. In their story, they know what their goal is, they know how they measure their success or failure. I must admit, I’m not sure how to do the same. Is it the number of books I sell that will measure my success? The amount of schools or book clubs that choose to explore my story? Is it the awards I could win, or the reviews I might get? The goal of writing a book is nice, straightforward and attainable, the goal of publishing a book and bringing it into the world of libraries, bookstores and cyberlife feels much more uncertain.
But also exciting.
I am excited to introduce you all to these magnificent, young, powerful women who are striving to make a difference in the world. They will be evolving over the next few months and I hope you will stay with me on this journey. As a reader you are profoundly important. As a reader, you are the difference between this just being a story and this being a little piece of magic that can germinate and grow.